Under the overall patronage of the Ministry of Agriculture in Mali, OE and the Operations Evaluation Department of the AfDB organised a one day consultation on 29 September 2009 in Bamako to discuss the draft final report on the joint (IFAD-AfDB) evaluation on agriculture and rural development in Africa. This was a critical step in the process, with the aim of capturing the views and comments of Governments and other partners in sub-Saharan Africa on the main findings and recommendations from the evaluation. The concerned parties will finalise the evalution report in the coming weeks - taking into account the comments received at the consultation - for presentation to the Evaluation Committee on 1-2 December, and Executive Board during its December 2009 session. A discussion of the final report will also take place in the Bank's Committee on Development Effectiveness on 3 December 2009, likely to be followed by a discussion in the Bank's Board of Directors in 2010.
Participants expressed their broad satisfaction with the main conclusions and recommendations contained in the report.
They underlined the usefulness of the evaluation in laying out broad directions for further improving the performance of IFAD and the Bank in promoting agriculture and rural development and combating poverty in the continent. The participants shared their insights on the range of issues contained in the report, and among other issues, highlighted the need for greater attention to promoting access to markets and commercialisation of small farmers, wider engagement of the private sector in agriculture and rural development, ensuring deeper sustainability of benefits, more proactive involvement of the two organisations' in non-lending activities (policy dialogue, knowlegde management and partnership building), and the need to invest more in pro-poor agriculture research to develop low-cost technologies that can improve productivity and incomes.
They also emphasised the need for the two organisations to consider a differentiated approach in designing and implementing country strategies, projects, as well as supervision and implementation support, taking into account the country context and their specific circumstances. The issue of unequal and unfoavourable terms of trade facing the African economies was also discussed, as a major constraint to the development of the agriculture sector and raising rural incomes.
The consultation was chaired by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture of Mali. More than 50 persons participated in the event including Ministers of Agriculture from Burkina Faso , Ghana and Mali, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture in Senegal and the Director of Extension Services from the Ministry of Agriculutre in Mozambique. Selected regional and multilateral organisations (e.g., AGRA, WFP, etc) were also present. IFAD was represented by the Directors of OE, PA and PF and other staff. The Bank's Director of the Operations Evaluation Department, the Lead Agriculture Adviser, Resident Representative in Mali, as well as other staff also took part in the consultation.